There is nothing philosophical in this post unless one wants to ponder the philosophy of book hoarding. So I got a little money and I bought books; and whatever was left, I bought food and clothes. This sentence is the only thing that has something to do with the 16th century figure.
I feel that I have to talk about this because it’s the first time that I have spent so much on books on a single weekend, and that practically is my rent money. Nine new shiny books that I probably would not read anytime soon and that currently occupy the bedroom book shelf (for there is a mezzanine book shelf that I like showing off to pest controllers and visitors, heh).
This is not a phenomenal thing, but what I would like to know is how much is too much when it comes to book buying. Of course, one has to consider the background of the book hoarder. Do you have the means? I have a job. Do you have financial obligations? I do, and I happily perform them. How often is the hoarding? I bought some books last week at a book fair (and online), but prior to it, not too often, I guess.
Digression: I did a quick count of the books that I amassed this year, and I got 63. Add 3 more once the books in the mail arrive. It’s a combo of new books, books from second-hand book stores, and gifts. That’s more books than I could read in a single year, and it’s only nearly half of my 2013 progress (I’m at a sloppy 34). So that means I am just adding piles of books that are abandoned in the to-read shelf, which is a happy problem and which somehow summons the philosophy of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche, it is impossible to escape!
To continue, do the books need to be urgently read? No, but they might not be available when they need to be read. Has there been a shortage of food? No, but I seldom indulge on food (I stared at slices of pomelo at the market and I was horrified at the price, which is around a fifth of a common trade paperback). Are your clothes becoming threadbare due to regular use? No, but I have developed the habit of not buying clothes as long as there is something to wear that does not have holes. Was there ever a notice of eviction posted on your door? Never.
The basics are all met. Now, let’s dig a little deeper. Do you have a savings account? Yes, but it’s not worth talking about. Do you have insurance? I have only thought of getting one last week; I’ll probably start next year, I swear on my grandparents’ graves. Do you have a house? No. A car? No. Have you traveled a lot? I’ve never been out of the country. Any business plans? None. A foundation, perhaps? None. Any investments? My … books.
But I don’t feel bad about it. Is there something wrong if I don’t really work hard to be rich or something, or at least to secure my future? I think I can do better if I put my money elsewhere, but would that make me happier or at least contented? I would usually argue that the future doesn’t owe me anything, but don’t get me wrong. I still worry a bit about my future; my recent job transfer is a proof that I am continually, albeit slowly, looking for ways to improve my life.
Besides, had I not been a book lover, I am pretty sure that my money will be spent on other things. Perhaps I might have been a traveler who goes to exotic places at least twice a year. Or I might have been a violinist who collects six-digit instruments. Or I might even have been a business man who invests here and there. That kind of person is probably the person that I am least expected to become because I simply do not have that business frame my mind. And I could only vaguely speculate the what-ifs because it’s like changing myself into someone who is remotely me.
I realize that I am making excuses for my lack of financial security. I even think that this is an attempt at guilt-tripping. Just think of all the hungry and homeless people in the world! But no, I don’t feel guilty. Yes, I have a social responsibility, but I suppose the taxes that I pay will do, which are supposed to be splurged for a better country and just look at where they are flushed! I am not a saint. I am merely a book nut. It is not a lofty image, but I believe it is noble enough.
And because the word “noble” reminds me of the Nobel, here are those books that got me reeling (two of them are from Nobel laureates). Most of them are on discount because of the Fully Booked discount card that I also bought:
- An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro – A stripey edition that I’ve been ignoring for quite a while. (Php 549.00, September 20, NBS – Glorietta)
- The Collected Stories of William Faulkner – Because Faulkner’s stories amazed me when I first read them back in college. (Php 719.00, September 21, FB – Bonifacio High St.)
- A Heart So White by Javier Marías – Suddenly, his books are everywhere. I must get one before they perish. (Php 609.00, September 20, NBS – Glorietta)
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – It just pulls me. And you have to love the Penguin Deluxe editions. (Php 899.00, September 21, FB – Bonifacio High St.)
- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – Our book club’s book for November. (Php 576.00, September 20, FB – Greenbelt 5)
- Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro – A replacement for my swapped copy. (Php 549.00, September 20, NBS – Glorietta)
- Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust – The fourth in the series. The third book, The Guermantes Way, is currently and unfortunately out of stock everywhere. Gah! (Php 809.00, September 20, FB – Greenbelt 5)
- Speedboat by Renata Adler – My NYRB purchase for this month. (Php 504.00, September 20, FB – Greenbelt 5)
- The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov – Because Lolita, our current book of the month, reminds me to get this one. (Php 795.00, September 20, NBS – Glorietta)
So you see, I also bought a shirt (Snoopy!). The food is down my digestive tract (no pomelo though). I already paid a significant amount for my sister’s college (I have the strong faith of becoming the proud brother of a future number-cruncher). My savings account is still so-so (I am working on it). The future is a blur (and the present is filled with happy books). There’s a mountainous pile to scratch (well, isn’t life something like that?).